RICHIE Wellens accepts his players were denied the opportunity to play their usual free-flowing style of football on a poor Rodney Parade pitch this afternoon, but failed to use that as an excuse as Town were beaten 2-0 in south Wales.

Josh Sheehan and Jamille Matt netted for the visitors either side of half time to place Michael Flynn’s County eight points short of the play-off frame having played three games fewer than many of their mid-table rivals.

Newport adapted to the pitch’s poor state – not helped by Dragons’ rugby game on Friday night - better in the game’s first 70 minutes and utilised Mickey Demetriou’s long throw well to regularly threaten Steven Benda’s goalframe.

Chances were few and far between at the other end of the pitch, with home ‘keeper Tom King only tested once throughout the 90 minutes.

Wellens said his players were caught out from minute one.

He added: “We like to pass in areas where we pass to players that are marked, if you do that on this pitch it won’t work.

“We saw it in the first minute. Tom (Broadbent) had an opportunity to put the ball over the top, instead he took a touch and got closed down.

“We lost the second ball and it was turned over our defence so we went a goal down. It’s a bad day for us, but we have to dust ourselves down.”

Jordan Lyden sat out the second match of his three-game suspension while Michael Doughty was absent because of illness – that allowed new loan signing Rarmani Edmonds-Green to make his debut.

Newport’s long-ball tactics were executed well, and Wellens accepted after full time that his players were bullied for long periods of this afternoon’s game.

He added: “We missed Jordan Lyden today with the way the game was. I was asking my players to do everything that I haven’t been asking them to do for the last however many games.

“I wanted them to put the ball in there and fight for second balls. We had to try and play them at their own game, and they’re very good at it.

“The surface is what it is, it looks bad from the side and then I’m walking on it at the end and that confirmed it is really bad.

“Newport are good at what they do, and they played the pitch better. They beat us up a lot, to be honest.

“I’ve never seen a game with so many long throws. It was difficult to get a flow going, our clearances weren’t big enough and our determination to win second balls was no way near good enough.”